TAMPA, Fla. — Let the celebration begin!
In the immortal words of the great Jackie Gleason,
“How sweet it is!”
For the University of South Florida interim basketball coach Murray Bartow, you wonder if the smile would ever subside because after losing 12 games the Bulls were able to smile and walk off of the court with a 64-57, victory over the East Carolina University in front of 2,901 excited basketball fans inside the Sun Dome.
Excited and aspirating to many but USF basketball fans waited for the Bulls to lose the game!
At the start of the game it looked like that the Bulls would be in for a long night after falling behind by nine after the first 3:19 but something happened out on the court.
USF decided to play a 3-2 zone defense and that just confused the Pirates, the Bulls hung on to the ball and the University of South Florida offense scored points.
Out of character, the Bulls finished the first half with a 13-0, run and took a 11-point advantage into the locker room.
“I’m just proud of the guys,” Bartow said after celebrating the Bulls’ first win in the American Athletic Conference. “Their spirit is good. Practice have been great. We are getting better. We are making some progress.”
Helping the Bulls in making progress is junior guard Geno Thorpe, he scored 22 points for USF, his 16th double-figure point game this season and the fourth contest that he scored more than 20-points.
“Yeah! It’s a relief!” Thorpe said about ending the 12-game losing streak. “Our hard work in practice is paying off.”
Working hard to help Thorpe and the rest of his team freshman Tulio Da Silva scored 13 points and lead the Bulls under the boards with seven rebounds.
The scoring drought for the Pirates continued at the start of the second half for the first 2:36 but then East Carolina University started to find the range and the holes in the USF defense and went on a 12-2 run to work the deficit down to four points with 5:58 left in regulation.
East Carolina University guard Jeremy Sheppard led the Pirates with 17 points, forward Caleb White and guard Kentrell Barkley chipped in with 12 points, the Pirates finished the game with 37 rebounds but they could not overcome the 15 turnovers that led to 22-points scored by the Bulls.
“Teams aren’t going to give it to you,” East Carolina University acting basketball coach Michael Perry said before he boarded the team’s bus. “You have to take it. That is where we have to get.”
Getting a chance to feel the sweetness of victory will be an overnight sensation but Bartow and his staff will be back working and getting the Bulls ready for the next game.
The best team in the conference will be in town and inside the coolest basketball venue on the right-hand side of the state of Florida the Sun Dome.
USF will roll out the welcome mat Wednesday night February 15, for the No.11 the University of Cincinnati will be in town for a visit. The game is scheduled to tipoff at 7 p.m.
For Bartow and his squad, the taste of victory is so sweet and finally the Bulls can spend a little time soaking up that feeling-for a little while!
“It was upbeat!” Thorpe said about the team’s celebration. “You know we finally got the win after 12 games and everybody was just excited and happy!”
As they should be!
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.